Nintendo! Oh man, who doesn’t love playing some Nintendo? For years now, we’ve come to love the classic characters and games that have been consistently churned out by the Big N. Mario Brothers, Star Fox, Legend of Zelda, Pikmin, Animal Crossing, Pokémon, and many more have entertained us for decades now, reliably coming out with fun games for each new system. The worlds that Nintendo has created are familiar, family-friendly, and fun. So what’s the problem with that? Or, to put it another way: is that all Nintendo has to offer?
Don’t get me wrong, Nintendo is a great company that has produced many incredibly entertaining games, but it seems to me that they’ve fallen into a bit of a slump, creativity-wise. I mean, who doesn’t love a new Mariokart or Legend of Zelda, but is that really all they’ve got to offer these days? Newer versions of what works? Now, I’m a big proponent of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but Nintendo is a company that used to produce new and exciting intellectual properties, but they don’t seem to be interested in doing that anymore. If Nintendo makes a game, then you can expect the usual crew in that game.
I really don’t understand why they’re hesitant about creating new characters. They’ve had incredible success in the past with characters they’ve developed, or had a heavy hand in developing. (I realize that not every character owned by Nintendo originated with Nintendo, but for the sake of my own sanity I’m just going to lump them all together.) I think this might be part of the problem that Nintendo’s been having lately. They’re not being creative enough to get people really excited about their games. Instead, they keep pumping out a new Mario game, a new Pikmin, a new Pokémon, and not truly getting creative. Or giving us Amiibos, which a lot of gamers might be into, but I know that I’m not, really. Or, the few times that they come out with a different style of game, they shove their familiar characters into it! Toad in a puzzle game! Mario in a puzzle game! Link in a Dynasty Warriors!
Give us something new, Nintendo! I want to buy a Wii U, I really do, but if it’s just the same thing over and over again, why would I bother to do that? If it’s Legend of Zelda, why wouldn’t I just play one of the six other versions I have? If it’s Super Mario, why wouldn’t I just pop in Galaxy or 64? Are the new versions truly very different than what I’ve already got? Give me something different, something to get excited about! “Hey, a Mario RPG! It’s Mario! And Bowser! And I guess they’re friends at the moment, or something. Is this even canon? Does Mario have canon?”
Now, one could make the argument that simply creating new characters would be gimmicky. One could say that since they make games for almost every type of game, making a game with the same gameplay but different characters would possibly be detrimental to their current properties and be practically dishonest to their fanbase. I do not necessarily argue this train of thought. In fact, that line of thinking could be taken even further by suggesting that they were being the only true innovators with motion controls. I do not argue this, either. It was very brave of them to do something different with regards to controlling their games, and I commend the effort.
The only problem is that the motion controls are, in my opinion, a failure. They’ve never worked as well as they should, and waving your arms wildly about in front of the television will never get fun. But again, I applaud the attempt.
Then there’s the problem of possibly hurting their pedigree by releasing different games in the same genre. It is something that they would run the risk of, but as they have a habit of making very good games, I think that the risk to their reputation would be minimal.
Also, by developing new properties, they have the chance to do things that they wouldn’t dream of doing with their current properties. For example, skipping over one iteration of the Legend of Zelda for a different adventure would not necessarily be the worst thing in the world. I mean, they would never in a million years have Zelda become power-hungry and take the Triforce pieces from Link and Ganon, but with a different franchise, they could go in this type of direction. Or perhaps, instead of shoving their familiar characters into new types of games, they could maybe spend a few minutes thinking up a new, fun character to put in the game. Instead of Kirby’s epic yarn, there could have been a whole new world with new characters and a fun art style and new gameplay to go with it. But instead it’s Kirby made of yarn. Which is fine, but not nearly as exciting or full of possibility as a new franchise would give us.
Additionally, I think that it alienates a good portion of the gaming population by making all their IPs seem very childish. If every character is a big-eyed ball of cute, then many will gravitate towards more adult-seeming fare. I know that many Nintendo fanboys will say “good,” but I actually want Nintendo to be really popular again. And I’m not suggesting that new characters and IPs need to be gritty or violent, nor do they even have to be more “adult” per se, it just opens up those avenues by not focusing solely on decades-old characters and worlds.
I want to reiterate that I enjoy Nintendo and the worlds and games they have created. I simply think that while they are looking to the future with their hardware, their characters and franchises are all from the past. Maybe shake it up a little, Nintendo. Give us something new and exciting! Mario is great and all, but maybe make up a new character and game franchise. Like…I dunno, a pirate? Or a like, a misunderstood space cactus or something? Give me a paycheck, this shit ain’t free!